We the staff of The Catholic Weekly & The Catholic Times, dedicate our efforts to fulfilling the mission of the Catholic Press:
- To spread the teachings of Jesus;
- To report official information of the Church at all levels
- To report other news of importance to Catholics.
It is our goal to inform, educate and promote understanding about the Church at all levels, while providing a public forum for the exchange of ideas and opinion. As Authorized Diocesan Newspapers, The Catholic Weekly & Catholic Times serve as an available vehicle for each Bishop to communicate with parishioners and clergy locally, as well as on a wider scale.
A passion for social justice, born during the Great Depression and ignited at Catholic University of America, led Fr. Neil O’Connor to look for a way to communicate his ideals on a broader scale.He had been ordained in the Grand Rapids Diocese six years earlier. When boundaries were re-established in 1938, Fr. O’Connor was moved into the newly created Diocese of Saginaw and immediately felt a call to become more active in social issues of the day.
By 1942 the then 34-year-old assistant pastor of Saginaw St. Andrew parish was looking for a way to more broadly communicate those issues and his ideas about them. He approached Bishop William Murphy about publishing a weekly Catholic newspaper for local parishes.
Bishop Murphy was interested in the concept of a newspaper for his fledging diocese, but did not want “hard to come by” church funds to be put towards such a risky venture. The bishop granted Fr. O’Connor permission to publish a paper but made it clear that any financial losses would be his alone.
On March 22, 1942, The Catholic Weekly newspaper debuted as the ‘Authorized Publication’ for the Diocese of Saginaw. Fr. O’Connor served as editor and energetic 28 year-old Fr. Eugene Forbes, assistant pastor at Saginaw SS. Peter and Paul, became his assistant editor.
The two wrote copy, set up the pages and even sold advertising. The paper’s first base of operation was the sometimes damp basement of St. Andrew Church located at 612 N. Michigan Avenue, Saginaw.
During this time of growth and expansion, several key staffers were added to the organization. Their presence would prove to have lasting effect. Bernard Sauve, not far removed from service in WWII, and then Marquette University, joined the editorial staff in June of 1947 and immediately worked towards increasing the paper’s local coverage.
With the success of the Saginaw enterprise clearly evident, Bishop Joseph H. Albers of Lansing began working with Fr. O’Connor to establish a newspaper for his diocese in the early 1950s.
An editorial and business office was opened at G-1624 Lambden Rd., Flint (Genesee county), which contained the largest population and advertising base within the diocese. On August 1, 1954, Vol. 1, Issue 1 of The Catholic Weekly, Lansing appeared. As in Saginaw, Fr. O’Connor assumed the position of editor.
Kenneth LaPorte, a Flint area advertising specialist, joined the Lansing CW staff at its inception and built a solid base of ad patrons.
On March 1, 1956, Donald Moeller assumed responsibility as business manager for the Saginaw office. His loyalty, steady leadership and consistent concern for detail helped keep the papers on an even keel throughout his more than 33 years of leadership.
The papers prospered throughout the fifties and sixties and regularly accumulated awards for excellence from the Catholic Press Association. The Saginaw office moved to a permanent home at 1520 Court Street in Saginaw, where it remains to this day.
An example of the organization’s dedicated effort to deliver news of the day is evident through the example of Fr. O’Connor’s personal flight to Rome during Vatican II in order to provide in-depth coverage of that historic event from a local perspective. This was a costly effort for a small publication that could have easily relied on news service coverage.
For nearly 50 years, he served as actual owner, as well as executive editor of the papers, keeping readers informed of happenings at all levels of our Catholic Church.
A long battle with a debilitating ailment, later diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, led to Fr. O’Connor’s early retirement from active ministry in 1966. The disease slowly zapped his energy level and he became more reliant on the loyal group of dedicated staffers he had assembled to keep his beloved papers going.
As had occurred in the late 1930s with the establishment of the Lansing and Saginaw Dioceses, enormous growth of the Church throughout Michigan was necessitating the need for additional reorganization.
In 1971, when two new dioceses were created in the Michigan Province, The Catholic Weekly again expanded. Newly installed Gaylord Bishop (now Cardinal) Edmund Szoka, requested an edition of the paper for his fledging diocese.
Responsibility for The Catholic Weekly, Gaylord was given to Saginaw office staffers, who received great help from the diocesan office of communications and the parishes themselves in covering and reporting the news. A similar arrangement was made between the Diocese of Kalamazoo and the Flint office of the Lansing C.W. That edition was christened “The Proclaimer.”
The 1970s and 80s were not kind years for the Catholic press in general. Several economic recessions, resulting unemployment throughout the state and wild inflation brought soaring costs for production and mailing.
At the same time pastors, faced with similar financial constraints, began to cut their parish orders of the paper. Total circulation, which at one time had nearly reached 50,000 paid copies, began to erode. By 1985 the total press run for all editions dropped just under 30,000.
By the late 1980s Father’s long trusted lieutenants began to leave the scene. Barney Sauve hung up his pen and camera on Jan. 1, 1987 after nearly 40 years of service. Don Moeller retired in June of 1989 and Ken LaPorte passed away following a lengthy illness in November 1990.
Upon Fr. O’Connor’s death in 1989, and for the next three and one-half years, the papers continued to publish under the direction of Fr. Clarence Smolinski, a Gaylord diocesan priest, and executor of the O’Connor estate. During this critical time, the Lansing edition of The Catholic Weekly, which been run as a separate business entity from the Saginaw operation and had struggled financially for several years, folded.
Lansing Bishop Kenneth Povish, a long-time writer and contributor to all editions of the paper, approached the Saginaw office about the possibility of publishing a new paper for his diocese. On November 22, 1991, six weeks following the demise of its predecessor, The Catholic Times was born. A new office for the paper was opened in Flint with high hopes for a promising future.
In November of 1992 The Catholic Weekly, along with its new sister publication The Catholic Times, were separated from the O’Connor estate and incorporated into a non-profit corporation christened G.L.S. Diocesan Reports, Inc. The letters stand for Gaylord, Lansing and Saginaw, the three dioceses for which the organization publishes newspapers.
Although quite an uncommon notion for diocesan newspapers to not be owned and operated by the Church itself (there are only about a half dozen similar relationships nationwide), the arrangement has worked quite well here in Michigan for nearly seven decades. While reflective of each diocese served, the organizational set up has provided each edition with a bit of journalistic independence uncommon to many Catholic publications.
Throughout its nearly 70 years The Catholic Weekly organization has left a distinct imprint on each of the dioceses it serves. Each edition is unrivaled as a complete historical document for the dioceses of Gaylord, Lansing and Saginaw.
Besides printing the news of each week “from a Catholic perspective,” the publication has also served as an energetic promoter of such other Catholic institutions as the Catholic Missions, parishes, schools and support groups.
The organization’s long association with such dedicated writers as Bishop Kenneth Povish, Fr. Isidore Mikulski, Msgr. Eugene Forbes, Fr. Charles Irvin and Fr. Ron Rolheiser (among others), is also a point of great pride. Their talents continuously helped to elevate each issue in which their contributions appeared.
Today Mark A. Myczkowiak, a long-standing employee who has worn many hats since 1981, serves as president of the corporate board of directors and general manager of the papers. A pastoral advisory committee, made up of one clergy representative appointed by the bishops of the diocese, also plays an important part in the direction of the papers.
Editorial and advertising offices for The Catholic Weekly and The Catholic Times continue to be located at 1520 Court St. in Saginaw.
The staff of the papers has initiated many changes during the past several years to update and improve service to each diocese, its parishes and people. Response from pastors and other readers to improvement efforts has been generally very favorable.
Total circulation for all editions today stands at just under 12,000 paid copies. The Catholic Weekly and The Catholic Times stand as the only weekly Catholic newspapers based in Michigan.
Mark Haney serves as executive editor for all editions and editor of The Catholic Times. Steve Sirianni is managing editor of The Catholic Weekly, Saginaw. Julie Root is managing editor of the Gaylord edition. Jacqueline McKnight is a staff writer. Christine Brass serves as bookkeeper for the newspapers, a post she has held since 1982, as well as treasurer of G.L.S. Diocesan Reports, Inc.
As we head into our eighth decade of serving Catholic faithful from throughout Michigan, we pledge our utmost efforts to report the news of the day from a faith perspective. More importantly, we re-dedicate ourselves to spreading the “good news,” the teachings of Jesus and promoting understanding about all levels of our Catholic Church. That is our stated mission and our aim.
For additional information about The Catholic Weekly or The Catholic Times, call (989) 793-7661… or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to a long future of service and are always pleased to hear from you.